World News

Iran exports gasoline to Iraq, Afghanistan, Armenia

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has exported more than $36 million worth of gasoline to Iraq, Afghanistan and Armenia, ISNA news agency said on Tuesday, which it sees as a victory against sanctions.

Iran, which was long dependent on imported gasoline for 30-40 percent of its consumption, said last month that it had started exporting the fuel. The sales were confirmed to Reuters by trade sources but they did not know at the time where the cargoes were being exported to.

“To date we have exported 32 million liters to Iraq, Afghanistan and Armenia,” said Ardeshir Mohammadi, head of Iran’s customs, according to ISNA.

Under an emergency plan to counter U.S. and European sanctions which specifically target Iran’s need to import refined fuel and stopped many companies from selling to the Islamic Republic, Iran has increased its refining capacity, mostly by converting petrochemical plants to making gasoline.

The International Energy Agency, an organization chiefly made up of net oil importers, said in its monthly market report on October 13 that Iran’s new self-sufficiency in gasoline was “unsustainable.

“First of all, $36 million isn’t that much gasoline and the quality is low,” Samuel Ciszuk, senior energy analyst with IHS. “We will have to wait and see whether it’s sustainable. The fact that they make such a statement for just $36 million shows how much they want to show they are beating sanctions.”

Trade sources said the gasoline exported from Iran was 75 research octane number (RON), dubbed “Iraq grade” by oil traders, which is much lower in octane than the 95 RON used in many European countries.

Iran’s rulers have repeatedly shrugged off the impact of sanctions imposed on the country over its expanding nuclear work, which the West fears is a cover to build bombs. Tehran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is peaceful.

Additional reporting by Jon Hemming in London; Editing by William Hardy